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Are robots stealing our skills? MIT expert says maybe not

1 min read

Are we losing our human touch? What about our ability to grow and progress? Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots are becoming increasingly prevalent and there’s a growing concern:

Matt Beane, an automation expert from MIT, thinks we might be. But he’s also got some ideas on how to fix it.

Beane’s new book, The Skill Code, dives into this issue head-first. He argues that intelligent technologies such as AI and robotics are messing with the age-old relationship between experts and novices.

You know, the whole “master and apprentice” deal that’s been around since ancient Greece.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

Beane’s got a story that might just give us hope.

Enter Ernie and Deshaun, two bomb disposal experts.

Robots and bombs

In the days of yore, Ernie would be out there in a 35-kilogramme suit, defusing bombs all by himself while Deshaun watched from afar.

Not exactly ideal for learning, right?

Then along came the PackBot, an 18-kilogramme robot that completely changed the game.

These days, Ernie and Deshaun sit side by side, with Deshaun controlling the robot while Ernie guides him.

Imagine a high-stakes video game, but with real-world consequences! And of course, learning opportunities galore.

The perfect balance?

This setup, Beane argues, is what we need more of.

It might be a fine line between saving the world and learning. It is all about preserving what Beane calls “healthy challenge, complexity, and connection” in our work.

But here’s the kicker: the PackBot isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

How we use robots

It’s not about the tech itself, but how we use it.

Beane stresses that we need to be smart about implementing new technologies, always keeping skill development in mind.

So, what’s the takeaway?

We don’t have to choose between shiny new tech and good old-fashioned skills. In fact, Beane reckons we might get better results if we insist on having both.

The world might soon be run by machines. So maybe, just maybe it’s time we rewrite the skill code.

After all, as Beane puts it, “the path to a healthy future requires them all.”

Cheryl Kahla has dedicated her career to exploring the intersections of tech and society. With contributions to numerous international outlets, she provides insights into emerging tech trends, AI, science, and the impact of digital innovations. Outside of writing, Cheryl indulges in gaming, martial arts, and debating the merits of AI with her cat, Gotham. He’s indifferent to the subject.

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